Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Constitution and Standards Committee
Friday 8th February 2019 12.00 pm

Venue: Quantock meeting room, Shire Hall training centre

Contact: Scott Wooldridge  01823 357628 or Email: swooldridge@somerset.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

49.

Apologies for absence

Decision:

The Chair asked for apologies received and the Monitoring Officer stated that Dr Ward had indicated he could not attend the meeting.

 

Also, the Monitoring Officer reported that Mrs Chapman had decided to step down from the Committee. The Chair stated that he was sorry to hear this news and he thanked Mrs Chapman for her endeavours as a member of this Committee and her work on its successor Committee since 2014 and this was endorsed by those present.

50.

Declarations of Interest

Details of all Members’ interests in District, Town and Parish Councils will be displayed in the meeting room. The Statutory Register of Member’s Interests can be inspected via the Community Governance team.

Decision:

Members of the Constitution and Standards Committee declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Member of a District, City/Town or Parish Council:

 

Cllr H Davies             West Somerset District Council;

Cllr D Loveridge       Sedgemoor District Council;

Cllr W Wallace          South Somerset District Council;

Mrs J Middleton       Langford Budville Parish Council.

Minutes:

Members of the Constitution and Standards Committee declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Member of a District, City/Town or Parish Council:

 

Cllr H Davies             West Somerset District Council;

Cllr D Loveridge       Sedgemoor District Council;

Cllr W Wallace          South Somerset District Council;

Mrs J Middleton       Langford Budville Parish Council.

51.

Minutes from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 75 KB

The Committee is asked to confirm the minutes are accurate.

Decision:

The Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2018 were accurate, and the Chair signed them.

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2018 were accurate, and the Chair signed them.

52.

Public Question Time

The Chairman will allow members of the public to present a petition on any matter within the Committee’s remit. Questions or statements about any matter on the agenda for this meeting will be taken at the time when each matter is considered.

Decision:

There were no members of the public present, and hence no questions asked, statements/comments made or petitions presented.

Minutes:

There were no members of the public present, and hence no questions asked, statements/comments made or petitions presented.

53.

Changes to Financial Regulations pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To consider the report and recommendations from the Interim Director of Finance.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee considered this report that sought to provide assurance regarding the adequacy of the current Financial Regulations following a review by the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Internal Auditor, and approval for very minor amendments.

 

Members noted that best practice and current Council policy required that an annual review was completed to ensure that the Financial Regulations were up to date. It was noted that the review conducted last January by senior finance staff had shown those regulations remained fit for purpose as part of the Constitution. The amended Financial Regulations were attached to he report.

 

There was a brief discussion of the report and the Monitoring Officer explained that small technical amendments had been made to the Constitution to update details, such as job titles and those of Committees. It was noted that throughout the document, the term Chief Financial Officer would now be used as this had a specific meaning that referred to the statutory role, regardless of the actual designation of the postholder. In response to a question it was confirmed that there had not been any changes to those who were entitled to make financial decisions, or to the financial thresholds that applied.

 

The out going Interim Director of Finance responded to a question about the recruitment of a successor and the merits of the Council proceeding with another interim appointment. It was explained that the Council’s financial situation had improved, its financial arrangements remained robust and the new Interim Director of Finance had held a similar role at a Shire Council and her appointment for 12 months would allow enough time for a new Chief Finance officer to be recruited. 

 

The Committee noted the report and the amended Financial Regulations were unanimously approved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered this report that sought to provide assurance regarding the adequacy of the current Financial Regulations following a review by the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Internal Auditor, and approval for very minor amendments.

 

Members noted that best practice and current Council policy required that an annual review was completed to ensure that the Financial Regulations were up to date. It was noted that the review conducted last January by senior finance staff had shown those regulations remained fit for purpose as part of the Constitution. The amended Financial Regulations were attached to the report.

 

There was a brief discussion of the report and the Monitoring Officer explained that small technical amendments had been made to the Constitution to update details, such as job titles and those of Committees. It was noted that throughout the document, the term Chief Financial Officer would now be used as this had a specific meaning that referred to the statutory role, regardless of the actual designation of the postholder. In response to a question it was confirmed that there had not been any changes to those who were entitled to make financial decisions, or to the financial thresholds that applied.

 

The out going Interim Director of Finance responded to a question about the recruitment of a successor and the merits of the Council proceeding with another interim appointment. It was explained that the Council’s financial situation had improved, its financial arrangements remained robust and the new Interim Director of Finance had held a similar role at a Shire Council and her appointment for 12 months would allow enough time for a new Chief Finance Officer to be recruited. 

 

The Committee noted the report and the amended Financial Regulations were unanimously approved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

54.

Local Government Ethical Standards pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To consider the recently published report from the Committee for Standards in Public Life

Decision:

The Committee considered this report introduced by the Council’s Monitoring Officer who reminded Members that the Council’s Contract Procedure and Standing Orders (CPRSO) had been updated last May and further amended last October. He explained that the scheduled annual review had highlighted necessary amendments to Section 43 regarding Approval to Award and these would reflect the Council’s ’10-point plan’ regarding securing a sustainable budget.

 

The Monitoring Officer and the Head of Commercial and Procurement provided an overview of the proposed changes, and these were to reflect the Council’s increased control of spending and expenditure thresholds for awarding contracts, framework agreements and dynamic purchasing. The amended CPRSO, with amendments highlighted was attached to the report as an appendix.

 

There was a brief discussion of the report and it was confirmed that the Council’s Governance Board had considered and endorsed the proposed changes at its January meeting. Members noted some sections of the CPRSO were grammatical amendments and changes to tense could be made to improve the document. 

 

The Committee agreed unanimously to:

 

a) endorse the proposed amendment to the 2017 Contract Standing Orders to ensure consistency of policy and procedure in respect of Officer thresholds for approval to award a Contract, Framework Agreement or Dynamic Purchasing System;

b) amend references throughout The Rules to the Director of Commercial and Business Services and replace them with the Director of Corporate Affairs to reflect organisation change;

c) update The Rules in line with the General Data Protection Regulations;

d) extend the requirement for publishing Tenders and Contracts to Grants in line with the Local Government Transparency Code 2015;

e) require all breaches of The Rules to be reported to Governance Board to provide oversight and transparency of associated risks that the Council may be exposed to prior and during a procurement procedure and in to contract delivery.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered this report introduced by the Council’s Monitoring Officer who reminded Members that the Council’s Contract Procedure and Standing Orders (CPRSO) had been updated last May and further amended last October. He explained that the scheduled annual review had highlighted necessary amendments to Section 43 regarding Approval to Award and these would reflect the Council’s ’10-point plan’ regarding securing a sustainable budget.

 

The Monitoring Officer and the Head of Commercial and Procurement provided an overview of the proposed changes, and these were to reflect the Council’s increased control of spending and expenditure thresholds for awarding contracts, framework agreements and dynamic purchasing. The amended CPRSO, with amendments highlighted was attached to the report as an appendix.

 

There was a brief discussion of the report and it was confirmed that the Council’s Governance Board had considered and endorsed the proposed changes at its January meeting. Members noted some sections of the CPRSO were grammatical amendments and changes to tense could be made to improve the document. 

 

The Committee agreed unanimously to:

 

a) endorse the proposed amendment to the 2017 Contract Standing Orders to ensure consistency of policy and procedure in respect of Officer thresholds for approval to award a Contract, Framework Agreement or Dynamic Purchasing System;

b) amend references throughout The Rules to the Director of Commercial and Business Services and replace them with the Director of Corporate Affairs to reflect organisation change;

c) update The Rules in line with the General Data Protection Regulations;

d) extend the requirement for publishing Tenders and Contracts to Grants in line with the Local Government Transparency Code 2015;

e) require all breaches of The Rules to be reported to Governance Board to provide oversight and transparency of associated risks that the Council may be exposed to prior and during a procurement procedure and in to contract delivery.

 

 

55.

Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 42 KB

To consider the proposed work programme.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee noted the report that listed future agenda items and reports for the next 3 meetings (May, June and October) of 2019.

 

The work programme was discussed and it was noted that the next meeting included an agenda item and report on the Council’s policy for publishing audio recordings on its website.

 

The report was accepted.

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report that listed future agenda items and reports for the next 3 meetings (May, June and October) of 2019.

 

The work programme was discussed and it was noted that the next meeting included an agenda item and report on the Council’s policy for publishing audio recordings on its website.

 

The report was accepted.

56.

Any other urgent items of business pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To consider the report and recommendations from the Commercial and Procurement Team.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Chair, after ascertaining there were no other items of business, thanked all those present for attending and closed the meeting at 13:14.

Minutes:

The Chair, after ascertaining there were no other items of business, thanked all those present for attending and closed the meeting at 13:14.

57.

Any other urgent items of business

The Chairman may raise any items of urgent business.

Minutes:

There were no other items of business.